The Rt. Hon. Anthony Eden in The Strand Magazine, August 1939
London: George Newnes, Ltd., 1939. First edition. Periodical. This August, 1939 issue of The Strand Magazine (Vol. XCVII, No. 584) contains the first published appearance of Winston Churchill’s portrait of his eventual successor as Prime Minister, Anthony Eden (1897-1977). Educated at Eton and Christ Church Oxford, Eden served on the western front from 1915-1918 and was awarded the Military Cross. He served as a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1923-1957. His posts included Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign Office (1931-1933), Lord Privy Seal (1934-35), Minister for League of Nations Affairs (1935), and Foreign Secretary (1935-38, 1940-1945, and 1951-1955).
Churchill’s article, prominently advertised with an illustration of its subject on the front cover, fills pages 258-66 and is illustrated by numerous photographs of Eden. This magazine approaches very good condition, particularly considering the inherent fragility of the format. The covers are bright, complete, and firmly attached, and the spine is uncreased. The covers show modest wear to hinges and extremities and some creasing to the lower front cover corner. Two binding staples have corroded affecting the adjacent paper on the covers. The contents are complete. The sole previous ownership mark is a printed and small, inscrutable, hand-annotated label affixed to p.1. This article was subsequently included in Collected Essays, Vol. III at pages 340-7.
Eden famously resigned his Foreign Secretary post on 20 February 1938 in protest of the Government's appeasement policies. Less than one year after Eden’s resignation the future wartime Prime Minister drew this character study of his eventual successor. Though Churchill was a vocal and persistent opponent of the strategy of appeasement, he is here careful to avoid taking a side regarding the Eden resignation. “I should be trenching too much upon burning controversies if I were to attempt here to express an opinion upon [Eden’s resignation]”. Nevertheless, he closes this essay praising Eden for his “readiness to sacrifice unhesitatingly his great position for the sake of his convictions, [that] even the most hostile critic must recognize the strong fibre of his nature, and the resolute purpose of his mind.”
In later years Churchill was much more explicit in his appraisal of Eden’s resignation. In his WWII memoirs he wrote: "...on this night of February 20, 1938... sleep deserted me... There seemed one strong young figure standing up against long, dismal, drawling tides of drift and surrender, of wrong measurements and feeble impulses... he seemed to me at this moment to embody the life-hope of the British nation... Now he was gone." (The Gathering Storm, pp. 257-8)
Eden's premiership, long-delayed while waiting for Churchill to relinquish his own grip on the premiership, was fraught with challenge, including the Suez Crisis, and revealed Eden prone to demonstrate "irascibility, his inability at times to delegate, and his touchiness in the face of criticism." Nonetheless, the passage of time sees Eden "increasingly recognized as a serious and patriotic figure who worked under the most appalling pressure for nearly three decades at the front line of British and world politics."
Reference: Cohen C643, Woods C430. Item #006438